Bio-fortified orange maize has enjoyed a rapid growth acceleration and reached almost a million Zambian people in three years.
Zambia’s HarvestPlus country manager, Dr Eliab Simpungwe, said government had driven the crop’s adoption, and promotion, through a dedicated budget allocation.
According to HarvestPlus, government is the major buyer of the vitamin A orange maize seed, which it distributed to farmers via the Farmer Input System Programme(FISP).
HarvestPlus plans to expand its bio-fortified crop segment, including the orange maize, from the current 20 million global users to a billion users in 2030.
In August 2015, Zambia held the official commercial sale of the first coloured maize in its mainstream value chain. Zambia was the first African country to sell orange maize. It is now widely available in the country, with five major private seed companies now selling seed to commercial farmers.
HarvestPlus has motivated farmers and consumers to buy the orange maize through partnerships with NGOs, like World Vision and AgResults.
Vitamin A improves vision
Recent studies showed that the night vision of children, taking part in a trial in Mkushi, improved significantly, after six months of consuming orange maize.
The orange maize, provides a significant percentage of the daily vitamin A requirement, an essential nutrient in the diet. Vitamin A deficiencies may lead to infections mainly connected with the vision and to the loss of sight – problems that can be prevented by taking in the vitamin,
The orange maize has been conventionally bred (Non GM).